Draper Labs Span Tampa Bay

The history of Tampa and St. Petersburg has not always been one of cooperation, especially in innovation, development, transit, sports and business, but that may be about to change.

The plans for Charles Stark Draper Laboratories Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. are a dramatic example of how both cities can offer appealing sites and an available workforce for a high-quality employer, says Stacey Swank, business development manager for the Pinelllas County Economic Development Department.

Draper is one of the world's largest independent research and development laboratories working in applied research, engineering and development. It plans to work on healthcare, security and energy projects locally, among others.

Draper is establishing a bio-microelectrical mechanical systems research and development center at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

It is also setting up a multichip module center in St. Petersburg and will be a research partner with USF and the SRI project in St. Petersburg and will be working with Progress Energy in St. Petersburg on energy production efficiency improvements.

The total impact: 165 new jobs with an average wage of $75,000.

The reason this happened was through a team effort that involved the state, the chambers of commerce in Tampa and St. Petersburg, the economic development departments in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, the Tampa Bay Partnership, the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Enterprise Florida, the Florida High Tech Cooridor Council and other organizations.

The cities and state provided $15 million in incentives that Draper qualified for, under a 2006 law to attract world-class research institutes to Florida. The incentives included land and buildings for facilities.

Dave Szymanski, a Tampa-based journalist, likes running 5ks, other sports and writing poetry. Comments?
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